Epilogue

The only light came from the cityscape outside. They paused at the foot of the bed that filled most of the room. She let out a small but genuine… giggle. His eyebrows shot up and his head snapped toward her. This was certainly a night of firsts.

"You want to let me in on the joke?" he asked with an astonished smile. She clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle another giggle.

"It's just that, after all that time fantasizing about luring you into my bed on Voyager – it struck me funny that it's some strange, new bed that gets to do the honors."

He looked at the amusement dancing in her eyes – this light, girlish new Kathryn who could giggle at something so silly – and began to laugh himself. When she heard his deep, happy laugh, she sat down on the end of the bed and gave herself up to the laughing fit, lying back and roaring with the absurdity of everything they'd been through. "My ready room! That perfectly good desk you never once managed to bend me over!" That sent him off into gales of laughter, the idea that the desk itself had been crying out for a little command team nookie.

He dropped onto the bed and laid back, hands settling at his middle as laughter overcame him. "Think of the turbo lift!" he chortled. "It's still wondering when I'm going to push you up against a wall and have my way with you."

"The Jeffries tubes! Oh Chakotay, all those lost opportunities!" She was on her back wiping away tears of laughter by now. She turned her head toward him. "I wonder if we could concoct an excuse to be alone on board before they recommission her. Make up for lost time."

He rolled onto one side and put an arm across her. "I'm not sure an old man like me has that kind of stamina."

She reached up to caress his jaw. "You may require a strict training regimen, Commander."

She loved the playfulness in his eyes as he rolled her under him. "And I suppose you think you're the woman to whip me into shape?"

"Oh I do hope so," she said, just before his lips came down on hers and his hand boldly went where it had never gone before, underneath all three layers of uniform to explore the lace of her bra. The fabric bunched uncomfortably under her arm. She grunted and slid out from under him to struggle with her jacket zipper. "These things are Starfleet-issue chastity belts, you know," she said and followed up with a curse as the zipper snagged on the fabric half way down.

He took her jacket by the hem, pulled it over her head, and tossed it over one shoulder. Then he reached for the back of her neck, and she felt his hands carefully lowering that zipper, watching the results as the shirt fell away from her neck, her shoulders, her chest, her arms, to reveal the snug tank top. "I never had any trouble getting one off a woman," he replied with a grin, making short work of his own zipper and shrugging off his jacket.

She slapped his arm. "This is not the moment to remind me how far I am down your list of conquests, Commander. If you can remember my name, that is." She tossed her hair and faced him with the same air of challenge she'd had that first day when he beamed onto the bridge. He couldn't wipe the grin off his face. She was magnificent.

He shook his head with an air of mock regret and sighed. "I honestly can't tell you where you are on that list, Kathryn."

Her hands went to her hips. "Oh? Why not?"

He reared up on his knees and took her face in both hands, leaning over her to speak eye to eye. "Because, my beautiful, infuriating, intoxicating captain – there is no more list."

"No?" She gave him a suspicious look. "Since when?"

He smoothed her hair with one hand and memorized the shape of her skull, the perfect balance of it. "Since whatever time it was when you agreed to our house, woman. Since then."

She gave him an innocent little smile. "Did I agree to that?"

He pushed them over sideways and brought her laughing down on top of him. "That and much more."

Kathryn pulled back just enough to pull up his shirt. She lowered her head to place a gentle kiss on his cheek. "I thought we'd never really get here, you know," she whispered, her voice catching.

"Home here, or here here?" he asked, patting the cotton bed cover under them.

She rested her hand on his belly. "Oh, I knew we'd get home, or die trying. But you and I…" she choked a little on her words, then smiled. "This is too much. We're going to offend the gods." Her voice was teasing, but he saw the sincerity in her eyes. After everything they'd been through, she still didn't believe she deserved this.

He ran a hand down her arm. "I won't tell if you won't." He sat up enough to pull his shirt over his head. When his shirt hit the floor, she just sat there with a watchful expression. He covered her hand with his. "If this is too much, Kathryn, we don't have to. I don't want anything from you that you're not ready to give."

She straightened her shoulders. "If that's the impression I'm giving, then I'm really out of practice at this. Chakotay – " she said his name in that carefully articulated way he had always loved, caressing each syllable, then ran a hand down his bare chest to settle where he had hardened under his trousers, her eyes following the progress of her hand across his skin with a look that nearly stopped his breath. "If I have to wait any longer for this, I might need medical treatment."

His restraint evaporated. He pushed her back and let his lips fall to her neck, her collarbone, the notch of her perfect throat, as he pushed her tank up and slid it past her arms to join the pile of garments beside the bed. Their boots hit the floor in four syncopated thumps. She had unfastened his trousers and was trying to grab enough fabric to push them down as his lips slid lower, onto the flesh of the tops of her breasts, flattened by a snug regulation bra.

He pulled the bra down a little to tattoo her breast with kisses. "And all this time," he murmured, "I was imagining you wearing the naughtiest things under that uniform."

She sighed at the sensation of his lips marking a path across her chest. "Sometimes I was."

He paused and picked up his head to see her face. "Really?" he inquired with undisguised interest. "What happened to them?"

Her eyes remembered the sadness they had shown a few minutes ago. "Oh, they're packed somewhere," she waved vaguely. "I think I gave up, just a little. Gave up thinking of myself as a woman."

"Kathryn," he told her as he reached under her to unfasten the bra with an expert twist of his fingers, "you will always be more than enough woman for me. And first thing tomorrow, we go through your storage container."

END